Last Updated on May 27, 2014
With spring in full swing and summer right around the corner, it’s time to plant yourself outside to soak up the sunshine, warm your bones, and enjoy some backyard fun with family and friends. One of the hottest summer trends this year is to bring your favorite indoor rooms – outside – by creating elegant and functional outdoor kitchens and family areas. Outdoor fireplaces are heating up backyards across the country and are playing a double role as a trendy brick oven for the nights (when you want to give your grill a break and treat your family to your favorite coal-fired pizza recipe), or as the go-to place for toasting marshmallows with the kids. These creative spaces bring an element of fun and character to your backyard and make your house the hot spot for outdoor summer entertaining. Whether it’s a quiet summer evening relaxing with family or a large-scale celebration, an outdoor retreat can make special times even more memorable.
Granite Transformations® offers some things to consider when planning the design of your outdoor retreat. To start, it’s always best to leverage some of the same design principles for an outdoor space as you would for an indoor space. Take into consideration how much outdoor space you have to work with, how many people you will be accommodating, your entertaining needs, and of course, your budget.
• Choose waterproof materials: Just as you would for your indoor kitchen, plan for ample countertop space, a sink, storage cabinets, and possibly a bar for your outdoor kitchen. Whether you have the space for a large full-scale outdoor kitchen or a small area for a more intimate entertaining nook, you must choose materials that are waterproof and which can withstand the elements all year round.
o Countertops: When selecting your countertop, focus on durability first. You need to select materials that are made to handle the outdoor elements. Recycled glass countertops are visually stunning when the sun reflects off of the glass. If you go with an engineered countertop, be sure that it’s made to withstand UV rays.
o Cabinets and sinks: When selecting cabinets and sinks, high-quality stainless steel provides one of the best surfaces for your outdoor kitchen. Stainless steel surfaces are easy to clean and corrosion-resistant and will provide years of low-maintenance outdoor pleasure.
o Flooring: Flooring or patio decking material should be highly resistant to grease stains and be able to withstand high temperatures. Sealed pavers or concrete are good flooring choices when designing your outdoor kitchen.
o Outdoor fireplace or fire pit: Although barbeque grills are the most popular outdoor cooking choice, today’s savvy homeowners are opting to build outdoor fireplaces to complement their new entertainment areas. Custom fireplaces add charm to any backyard and offer warmth on a cool night, and they can even double as an oven when you want to give your grill a break. Fire pits are another budget-friendly way to bring open-flame ambiance to your backyard, as they offer a fun place to toast marshmallows or relax on a cool evening.
• Functionality and utility: The placement or installation of any gas, water and electrical supplies will add to the functionality of your outdoor space. To ensure that your outdoor space continues to function throughout each season, incorporate various types of shelter to your cooking and dining areas. Installing heaters, awnings, pergolas – or even by planting shade trees – are great ways to shelter your guests from the elements as they enjoy the beauty of your outdoor living area. Experts recommend not having a ceiling or shelter directly over the grill area, as too much smoke will accumulate and there will not be proper ventilation. Cooking hoods are a good option. For smaller outdoor kitchen areas, opt for choosing a counter space that can double as a dining area. One rule of thumb is to plan for a countertop that is at least 15″ deep and approximately 24″ wide, in order to accommodate adequate space for each person.
• Other add-ons:
o TV: You may be a fabulous cook, but your guests may also want to watch the big game or listen to great music while enjoying your company outside. Plan for the installation of a flat screen television and music when designing your space.
o Lighting: Lighting is a key component to your outdoor space. Make sure you include adequate task lighting, as well as ambient lighting for those after-dark entertaining nights.
Going inside-out is the way to go this summer. Have the best of both worlds by bringing your favorite rooms outside and where you can enjoy nature at the same time.
Last Updated on May 21, 2014
A home swimming pool is something that many of us dream of having at one point in our lives. However they come at a price, both in terms of initial construction cost and ongoing maintenance costs. If you have just had a swimming pool built in your back yard or are about to buy a property with a swimming pool, knowing how to look after it correctly is vital as it will help to extend its lifespan and increase the amount of use to pool gets every year. If you are a new swimming pool owner, read on to find out a little information on how to maintain and care for you swimming pool.
In every relationship chemistry is important, and the chemistry between you and your pool needs to be spot on. There are a range of chemicals that need to be added to your pool water in order to find the right chemical balance. You need to check your pools chemistry on a regular basis and as a rough guide once a week during the winter and twice a week during the summer is sufficient. Frequent checks will allow you to make small adjustments to the water quality which is preferable to large shifts in the chemical balance. The pH level is perhaps the most important factor to measure as it will dictate the efficiency of other chemicals in the pool. As an example, at a pH of 8.5 chlorine is only 10% active. By maintaining a pH of between 7 and 7.5 chlorine will be between 50% and 70% active.
Alkalinity is another factor that will need to be checked regularly and you should aim to keep this between 100 and 140 parts per million (PPM). By letting the alkalinity in your swimming pool get too high or too low you can seriously affect the water balance and a sanitizer’s ability to work efficiently.
Filters & Skimmers
There are three main types of filter. These are sand, cartridge and diatomaceous earth (DE) filters. Each filter will require different levels f service. A cartridge filter is perhaps the most efficient and will require less attention than the other two. Both sand and DE filters will need to be backwashed every few weeks; however doing this too often can have a negative effect on the filters performance. By monitoring the pressure gauge of you filter on you should only need to clean it once the pressure rises 8 – 10 PSI from clean.
Skimmer baskets and hair and lint posts work to collect the larger debris that can usually be found in pools. The hair and lint post can be found in the pump so it’s important that you switch the pump off prior to checking. If these two collection points are not checked and cleared regularly the result can be poor circulation. As circulation is key to a healthy swimming pool, poor circulation can result in substantial problems.
As circulation is the key to a low maintenance swimming pool the pump will play a large part in keeping everything flowing nicely. Not running the pump for long enough is a common mistake made by many pool owners. If you have a good circulation system then you should aim to run you pump for one hour for every ten degree in temperature. It’s good practice to switch off your pump to clean the hair and lint pot and then to run if for the correct amount of time. E.g. 20 degrees Celsius equates to a running time of two hours.
Brushing down the walls and floor of your swimming pool is one of the more mundane tasks that you have to undertake on a regular basis. However, it’s important that it’s done as it will help to stop algae issues from developing. It’s also essential to prevent tiles becoming calcified, if this occurs you will need to hire a specialist to resolve the issue.
Alex writes for a swimming pool construction company that specializes in new builds and maintenance as well as selling accessories and supplies for swimming pools such as pool chemicals and covers.
Last Updated on August 12, 2021
Today’s swimming pools are so much more than places to have splashing good times. They are becoming works of art and the ultimate backyard showstoppers for homeowners who want to indulge in the beauty and luxury of today’s modern pool designs. Did you know that “older-style” tile can make your pool—and your backyard—look outdated?
This month, Granite and TREND Transformations has some important tips to consider when retiling your pool—keeping safety, style, and functionality top-of-mind.
Slip Resistant Tiles
The surface around your pool will be wet, so it’s important to select pool tiles that are slip-resistant to prevent slips and falls. Since the type of tile you choose for the outside of your pool—such the edges—will be different from those on the inside, be sure to have them treated to increase traction. It’s also a good idea to inquire about frost-proof tiles for colder weather.
Setting a budget
As with any project, you should begin with a realistic budget. There’s no doubt you will have a wide variety of tiles to choose from, but keep in mind there’s also a wide price range as well. Establishing a set budget beforehand can help guide you toward certain tiles and away from others, so you don’t go off the deep end. (No pun intended.)
Choosing a Design
As with any new design, it’s important to decide on a motif that blends with your home and personal style. Here are some design suggestions that are trending today:
- Blended colors—It’s not all about the color blue anymore. Today, homeowners are blending colors for a more stylish look. Green is one color that we are seeing more of today. Experts also agree that the combination of blue-and-white tiles are a good choice since each color reflects light well and allows for better depth perception in deeper water. Dark floor tiles, on the other hand, can present a safety hazard since they distort depth perception.
- Neutral tile tones—Some pool owners are leaning more toward neutral tones—like tan-colored tiles—for a completely different look.
Types of Floor Surfaces
Most pool surfaces are made of slate, pebble, or stone—which are different from the materials you would choose for your wall and pool areas. Choosing glass mosaic tile from Granite and TREND Transformations is an excellent option for your pool’s surface since its color will never fade and it is specifically manufactured for wet environments.
Installing pool tile can be tricky, so it’s important to choose an installer who has experience with the type of material you choose so the job is done professionally, efficiently, and within your budget.
Is your pool ready for a refresh? Contact Granite and TREND Transformations to find out more about beautifying your pool with mosaic tile. The consultation is free!
Last Updated on May 12, 2014
by Marcello Becchi firstname.lastname@example.org
Smaller kitchens can be cozy and inviting, and instill a sense of warmth and charm to your home. Homeowners today are embracing the remodeling of their small kitchen areas as more options are available to them, with exciting creative ideas springing up right before their eyes. Two of the immediate questions you’ll ask yourself is, “How will I fit everything?” and “Where will it go?” Remember to consider the best options for storage, lighting and appliances, and to keep them at the top your list when planning your beautiful new space.
Granite Transformations® offers these space-saving tips to spark your imagination and inspire your dream kitchen:
• Multitask – When space is at a minimum, maximize its functionality by looking for spaces that can be used for more than one purpose. One example is opting for an island or peninsula, instead of setting up a traditional table and chair ensemble. This family-friendly gathering space offers a spot for casual meals in addition to extra work space and storage. Some can even be equipped with a small sink to allow for quick clean-ups on those busy nights.
• Smaller and Compact Appliances – Appliance manufacturers have met the demands of creating a more efficient space for small kitchen owners by offering a range of space-saving and compact appliances, such as refrigerators that are 24 inches deep (instead of 30 inches deep) and microwave ovens that can be hung underneath cabinets to save precious counter space.
• Smart Storage – Maximize your storage space by increasing the depth of your countertops to accommodate more appliances and increase work space.
• Maximize Counter Space – Opting for one large countertop rather than smaller ones throughout the kitchen creates a more open space, and is more functional for busy cooks who are looking for extra room. Another great tip is incorporating a cutting board that can slide over the sink to expand the countertop even more.
• Cabinets – Think “up” when planning your cabinet layout. Utilizing the empty space above traditional cabinets creates a feeling of grandeur and is the perfect place to store your seasonal dishes, platters or bakeware. Yes, they may be a bit harder to reach, but grabbing a step stool a few times a year is worth the increase in space you’ll enjoy every day. You may also want to consider having a spice rack cabinet tucked inside one of your doors. It’s a great way to organize your spices and free up counter space.
• Strategic Lighting – Installing under-the-counter lighting can create an illusion of more space, which will not only make your kitchen appear larger but add a touch of ambiance as well.
• Adding a Large Window for Natural Light – Let the sun shine into your beautiful new kitchen by opting for a large bay window. The sunshine will not only light your kitchen but bring the soothing effect of a sunny day into your home.
• Flooring – If you’re considering replacing your flooring with tile, opt for placing the tiles on a diagonal, which will give the illusion of a larger space.
• Open Shelving – Displaying your dishes and bowls on open shelving reduces clutter and offers a more relaxed and casual feel.
• Make it Happen – It all starts with a click of your mouse or a quick call to your local Granite Transformations dealer to schedule a free in-home design consultation that will turn your dream kitchen into a reality. Granite Transformations makes it easy and we take the guesswork out of the entire process. Your new kitchen can be only one day away…
Last Updated on May 7, 2014
Surprise your Mom this Mother’s Day by preparing this delicious no-fuss French Toast Casserole. Whether you’re spoiling her with breakfast in bed or feeding a crowd for a Mother’s Day brunch, she will welcome the day off and savor every bite of this sweet and comforting dish. The make-ahead recipe makes the big day stress-free for you, too! Just prepare the casserole the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning. The aroma of brown sugar and cinnamon filling your home is sure to bring a smile to Mom’s face and hungry mouths to the table.
With gratitude to all of the great moms out there, Granite Transformations® wishes all of you a Happy Mother’s Day!
Baked French Toast with Brown Sugar Streusel Topping
Cooking Tip: You can either slice the bread and layer in a casserole dish or cut the bread into cubes. Either way, it’s a delicious way to celebrate Mom on her special day.
1 loaf French bread, cut into ¼” thick slices or cubed
8 large eggs
3 ½ cups whole milk or half-n-half
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons softened butter
½ cup chopped pecans, optional
Pinch of salt
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs with milk (or half-n-half), ¼ cup of brown sugar, vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. You may use a blender if you wish.
Layer bread slices or cubed bread in a buttered casserole dish. Pour egg mixture over bread, pressing bread down lightly to make sure all of it is submerged in the egg mixture. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning (or one hour before serving time):
For streusel: In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of brown sugar with flour, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, pinch of salt and 4 tablespoons of softened butter. Add pecans (if using). Sprinkle over the soaked bread and bake from approximately 45 minutes to one hour, or until nicely browned.
Serve with warm maple syrup and fresh fruit on the side for a beautiiul presentation.
Enjoy! Happy Mother’s Day from Granite Transformations!